Grant on the beginning of the cam girl

Along with the idea that fame was a commodity – or experience – that could be produced on a small scale, camgirl culture left deep marks on web aesthetics and community: the high-angle self portrait, the shared documentation of food and other daily minutiae. We blogged minute-by-minute when blogging didn’t really support that. We schemed to connect cameras to laptops with expensive mobile phone cards plugged in, so maybe, until the power ran out, we could upload photos of what we saw and did outside our homes.

Our hermeticism as an online community only really made sense once it was over. I turned my cam off for good in 2003, and when Flickr launched in 2004, my archives were the first images I thought to post. There’s no other way to put it, but they don’t work there. They don’t work really at all, unless you were there as they were produced, in the live moment. In the end, what we were, and what we were doing, and what we were producing left so little evidence. It’s not just that throwing our old sites up as archives misses the point, even if our audiences are still here to see them. What would be lost is the silence and stillness we created in the gutters and in the seconds between images.

Melissa Gira Grant, “She Was a Camera


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